A couple of weeks ago, I had a spirited discussion on technology with my best friend. After watching me seemingly consumed with texting my high school/college-aged kids while socializing one evening, he couldn't resist poking fun at my plight. A psychologist by training, he cited studies of the untoward effects of technology multi-tasking and the pernicious impact of instant messaging on the quality of communication. He also jokingly diagnosed me with attention deficit. I defended my behavior, noting that texting and IM are by far the easiest ways to stay in touch with teens and young adults. The kids almost never respond in a meaningful time frame to a phone call, and you'd think that email went out of fashion with desktop computers. I countered by calling my friend a curmudgeonly technophobe. Humbug!

It turns out that debates on the merits of technology are more common than one might think. A recent pairing of columns in the Wall Street Journal brings both the pro and con arguments on the internet to light. Author Clay Shirky promotes the benefits of the internet, while Nicholas Carr cites compelling evidence of its deleterious impact.

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